We can all picture the images in Cumbria, Cornwall and Sheffield in recent years when flooding has hit the headlines but, whilst it is not a matter of legal right or obligation, has this altered your conveyancing practices? If you were buying a house would you want to know about flood risk and who would you expect to tell you?
If these flood incidences grow and blight properties will lenders try to blame conveyancers for not conducting flood searches?
The Association of British Insurers is calling on the Government to ensure that flood defence spending is upgraded following its release of what appear to be a very wide potential number of homes that may be impacted by flood damage. The ABI has released figures that indicate that 1 in six of homes in England is currently at risk of flooding. The Association claims that nearly half a million people face significant flood risk and it estimates that this will increase to almost 840,000 by 2035.
The figures show that since 2000 insurers have paid out £4.5Bn in respect of flooding and this is up 300% on the £1.5Bn in the prior 10 year period.
The Environment Agency estimates that 2.8 million homes are at risk of surface water flooding.
I suspect these statistics are higher than many conveyancers would expect.
Speaking at a recent conference Tim Breedon the ABI Chairman said “Flooding devastates lives and communities. Insurers play a key role in helping those affected recover but prevention is better than cure.”
There are clearly many products on the market offering flood information to potential homebuyers but very few conveyancers seem to be buying them or offering them to their clients.
Looking at files within a number of firms over the last few weeks, flood enquiries seem to be left of the pre enquiry honesty of the vendor. It seems to me that conveyancers should be wary and perhaps seek to exclude detailed flooding enquiries as part of their retainer. What are your views and how do you approach this issue?